Entrepreneur
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By Dan Thies

Tracking URLs Tool

By Dan Thies

Ed (Haystack) Kohler posted a link to a very nice tool on the High Rankings forum today. This tracking URL creation tool for Google Adwords takes a list of search terms and keyword matching options (exact, phrase, broad), maximum bid amount, and base URL as input. It then generates a keyword list that can be copied and pasted right into an Adwords campaign.

Managing and optimizing PPC campaigns is a lot easier when you can readily determine which keyword bids generated click-throughs and sales, and this tool makes the tracking URLs very easy to set up.

As a demonstration, I loaded two search terms into the tool, “keyword research” and “keywords.” I used www.example.com/ad.php as my base URL, and a maximum bid of $0.25. Here’s the generated output:

keyword research ** .25 ** http://www.example.com/ad.php?source=gaw&kw=keyword-research-br
"keyword research" ** .25 ** http://www.example.com/ad.php?source=gaw&kw=keyword-research-ph
[keyword research] ** .25 ** http://www.example.com/ad.php?source=gaw&kw=keyword-research-ex
keywords ** .25 ** http://www.example.com/ad.php?source=gaw&kw=keywords-br
"keywords" ** .25 ** http://www.example.com/ad.php?source=gaw&kw=keywords-ph
[keywords] ** .25 ** http://www.example.com/ad.php?source=gaw&kw=keywords-ex

This set of tracking URLs would pass two variables to my ad.php script.

The “source” variable would be useful if we used the same script (ad.php) to track other campaigns. If the same keywords are used in more than one Adwords campaign, the value could be changed from “gaw” to some other identifier. It would be fairly easy to use a find & replace operation with any text editor to add additional variables if needed, or remove the “source=gaw” if we only use this particular script URL for Adwords campaigns.

The “kw” variable contains the search term I bid on, and a pair of trailing characters (ex, ph, br) identifying the keyword matching option. For a programmer with even minimal skill, it’s a relatively trivial task to parse the search terms out of this variable and do useful things like store information in a database, add the search term to the copy on the page, etc.

One word of caution for folks who use tracking URLs. Search engine spiders, especially the Googlebot, do have a bad habit of finding these URLs somehow. If there’s any possibility that you could end up throwing duplicate content at a spider (e.g you use the same landing page with multiple tracking URLs), make sure that you use robots.txt to keep spiders from following these URLs. With an ad tracking script like our hypothetical “ad.php,” it’s very easy to add a line to our robots.txt file and keep the spiders at bay.

User-agent: *
Disallow: /ad.php

That’s it for today, folks, back tomorrow with something new.

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